College acceptances have likely started rolling in and that means decision day is upon you. Most students will have a variety of options but here comes the tricky part, how do you choose a college?
We advocate applying to about six schools, so if you took our advice, your list should be rather selective. But what if you got into all the schools you applied to? Here are six questions to ask yourself as you figure out how to choose a college and which is the best fit for you.
- Which “list” is it on? Many experts advise dividing your schools into three categories: Reach Schools, those dream schools that seem like a long shot; Match Schools, those that seem to be a perfect fit for your skills, talents and interests; and Safety Schools those that you are relatively sure you can get into. But while it might seem automatic to go for that Reach School if you got accepted, make sure that you applied to it for all the right reasons – and not just to prove you could get in!
- How much aid did they offer? Most schools will include a financial summary with your acceptance packet. This is where you figure out if they are offering scholarship assistance, merit aid, or what other financial aid they are supplying. Haven’t saved quite enough? Don’t forget to check into the myriad of scholarships that are often available for the asking. Weighing the potential costs can be a deciding factor.
- What were your impressions on your visit? Did you schedule a college tour? Think back to all these different categories to help figure out what aspects of the college were appealing when you were there.
- Have you talked to students or alumni? See if you can track down someone from your high school that goes to your potential first pick. Ask plenty of questions to get the real scoop on the vibe, social life, professor interaction and more.
- Where is it located? Think hard about how location will factor into your experience. Is the college located so far away that it will be a financial burden to come home? Or, is it so close that you will literally feel like you never left? Is it located in a bustling metropolis or a small college town, and how does that sound? What about the weather? Don’t underestimate the challenge that freezing temps might cause if you’re used to the balminess of a beach home town.
- Does it meet your academic needs? This is, of course, the most important criteria, especially if you are sure what you want to do. Think about such factors as whether it offers your preferred major of course, but also, consider what the facilities are like. If you’re looking into computer science, make sure it is technologically advanced. How are their career placement services? Are the professors noted in their field? Are the class sizes in your major appropriate?
Still having knowing how to choose a college? It could be that you have to revert to a very scientific method I call the “gut check.” Imagine you weren’t accepted at a certain school. How do you feel? Eh, you can move on? Or devastated? Right there, you might have your answer!